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Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports

WWYDW: What would you be willing to do to bring in a franchise defenceman?

Let’s imagine, for a moment, a spectacularly unlikely hypothetical situation: The Los Angeles Kings crater next season. Further, the Kings determine that between their older core, their salary cap problems and their poor performance both during and post-Darryl Sutter, the timing is right for a rebuild.

As a result, they determine to shop Drew Doughty at the 2017 trade deadline, believing that their long-term interests are best served by dealing the all-world defenceman while he’s still more than a year away from unrestricted free agency.

This is obviously an outlandish scenario in many ways. L.A. has a good chance of improving on last year’s results, and even if they fail that won’t guarantee a full rebuild as their next move, and even if they opt to rebuild that doesn’t necessarily lead to a Doughty trade. It’s a farfetched scenario intended only as a mental exercise as to one way an in-his-prime franchise defenceman could pop up on the trade market.

For this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday, it doesn’t matter exactly who this hypothetical top defenceman is. Our question is this: If this general caliber of franchise defenceman were to become available via trade, what kind of offer would make sense for the Oilers?

Personally, I’m a big believer in elite talent; I believe the recent successes of Pittsburgh and Chicago reinforce the longstanding belief (going back at least as far as Conn Smythe) that the teams with great players are the teams that ultimately win. Depth matters, but championships are mostly determined by the guys at the top of the roster.

My view on this is reflected in what I said last year when Edmonton was rumoured to be interested in then-Montreal defenceman P.K. Subban. As much as it would have hurt to lose Leon Draisaitl in such a deal, it’s a lot of fun to imagine what the playoffs would have looked like for an Oilers team with Connor McDavid leading a top line, Taylor Hall anchoring a second and Subban in the No. 1 slot on defence. There’s no way of knowing whether that team would be better or worse than the club that was actually iced, but Subban was undeniably brilliant as a 25+ minute per game guy for the Predators in the postseason.

The Oilers would have some options if they were to try and add an elite defenceman at next year’s deadline. We can safely eliminate McDavid, and likely Draisaitl, from such a discussion. Components of a trade package might then include some combination of the following:

  • a very good young player signed long-term (Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is the obvious candidate; one of Oscar Klefbom or Adam Larsson would qualify, too)
  • a good young player under team control for a while (Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning, Ryan Strome, Zack Kassian)
  • an emerging player (Anton Slepyshev, Drake Caggiula, Laurent Brossoit)
  • prospects (Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, Caleb Jones, etc.)
  • draft picks (Edmonton is fully stocked for the next three years)

What would an elite defenceman from a rebuilding team command on the open market? It’s hard to say, but at this point a package including Nugent-Hopkins, Nurse and one of Puljujarvi or Yamamoto would seem like a bare minimum. The costs go up from there, and instead of increased volume the ask might be a more critical centerpiece than RNH.

If you were in the Oilers shoes, how high would you be willing to go? At what point would the ask be so rich that it would actually do more to set back rather than further Edmonton’s Stanley Cup hopes? Let us know in the comments section.

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  • madjam

    Doubt Doughty would be dealt to anyone to be honest . They are solid defensively , but weak offensively currently . More likely Carter or Kopitar gets dealt before Doughty .

  • Bills Bills

    Stripping away depth at forward in order to add defense is counter productive. Sending away Klefbom and other defensive prospects from the system and maybe a draft pick. Nurse and Klefbom is stripping away at the left side and just sends us down the road where we would have a strong right side and weak left.

    But weakening forward depth to make strengthen the defense is just robbing Peter to pay Paul.

  • Jordan88

    Am I the only one who thinks having a do it all d man is over rated? The Doughty’s of the world might stop McDavid’s line, Draisaitil’s line, but they can’t cover Nuge / Letestu lines, and those lines have been upgraded big time.

    Spread the dollars around in defence.

    I would not trade Larsson + Klefbom for Doughty straight up. that makes a hole for Edmonton to fill.

    • DerpSolo

      I agree. Even with the amazing D depth smashville had this year, they weren’t able to shut down the pens offense, but part of that poor performance was due to rinne

  • Bob Cobb

    That package is way too much for Doughty, I’d offer 2 higher end roster players, Klefbom and RNH, and a pick for Doughty. A 3 for 1 is way more palatable for me than a potential 5 for 1 that you suggest for a franchise defenseman. I’m not entirely sure we need a Doughty though, I like or D, get Sekera back and you are set, Pittsburgh showed you don’t need a franchise D to win a cup last year, as long as players step up and play to ability.

  • Jordan88

    I also want to add, Edmonton is in a spot where we can develop defense internally now. Taking on Doughty means Nuge + is gone we don’t have the cap space, so that likely would be unable to resign Jokinen next season.

  • Makaveli

    Boy could you imagine what kind of problems the Oilers would potentially have in the dressing room if the ego’s of Hall and Subban were on the team? How tough would it have been, announcing McDavid as captain with those two ego’s trying to out-ego each other?

  • As you said, hypothetically… for Doughty at $7m, with the Kings one big contract or a few little ones from cap hell to get to a roster of 50, needing to rebuild, they likely would want young up-and-comers at forward and defense. They’d need to shed one or two other contracts for that.

    C Nuge ($6m) + LD Nurse ($863k, RFA) + Slepyshev + Jones or Bear
    for
    RD Doughty ($7M)

    then the Oilers D could look like:
    Sekera – Doughty
    Klefbom – Larsson
    Russell – Benning
    Autivu – Gryba

    That’s a Stanley Cup defense right there.

  • TruthHurts98

    Pittsburgh just proved you can win a Cup with two superstar centres and defense by committee. Murray was outstanding of course. We have all the components to do that right now with Connor, Leon and Talbot. And we have some good dmen in the system. I think PC will have to trade Nuge and something else for someone like Faulk in Carolina. They don’t have a number one centre and need one to get to the playoffs IMO. But they already signed Russell so I’m not sure that is even on the table anymore. The defense might be set..

    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Nuge is not a number 1 center. He’s also no better than Staal. If you want a player like Faulk, you are going to have to pony up way more than that. Think Draisaitl. Number 1 defense are too rare to come by in trades and teams place a very high value on them.

      I would say that PITTS proved that an elite goalie tandem can offset the lacklustre defense core.

    • NoBuBlackOPS

      I just love how people think that Carolina is just going to trade Faulk away very little return. If I’m the Carolina GM and PC calls me up to offer RNH plus something else as you put it. I’m laughing my ass off as I hang up the phone RNH would be a no go unless you add in nurse or Benning plus a 1st Rd pick plus a prospect. Also why would Carolina trade a 20-25min a night top paring Dman who plays in all situations for a at best a second line centre with not a lot of size that can’t win a faceoff oh sorry wins 43% nothing about what RNH does is first line centre material.

  • ponokanocker

    If he could be available for that, definitely do it. Some elite talent with solid role players, and great goaltending in the cap era is what will win you cups. If we can get another elite talent, that would be awesome. I just don’t see LA doing it. If they go into a rebuild, they will want Doughty on the back end. He seems like the type of player, elite skating and hockey sense, that translates into a long career.

  • madjam

    Oilers , last season , was probably only a healthy Sekara away from going to the finals . We became favorites to win it all despite our defence , until injury to Sekara seem to change things . Our young group should improve more over this season , and that may be enough to reach the top . Not sold we need an expensive additional marque defenceman to win , seeing the progression of our youthful defence .

  • That's My Point

    Doughty = over-rated.
    Keep the Oilers young Dmen (NHL and Bear/Jones) and the Oilers will be better off in the long run. The Oilers can always trade their FUTURE Doughty’s after the Oilers win a couple of Stanley Cups and can’t afford to pay all their great players.

    • Dan 1919

      I agree, lots of Dmen are. We know how important a good d core is to a team, but lots of individual’s get propped up because of this. Giordano had a really good season way back when and he’s still regarded like this allstar. When he’s playing well he’s just a steady version of Sekera at his best.
      The days of Pronger and Lidstrom are over, those guys were unreal. Hopefully a D talent like them comes through the league again at some point, but it’s just not here right now.

    • ponokanocker

      I’d have to disagree on the over-rated statement. Watching Doughty in the last Olympics was a real treat. He was elite among the best players in the world. He hasn’t lost a step since then.

  • TKB2677

    Going the other direction. Do the Oilers actually NEED a “franchise” dman to win. A few years ago I would have said yes many because they couldn’t dress 6 NHLers. But now, I don’t think so. I say that because right now they have what looks to be a really good pair in Klefbom – Larsson that can not only bring some offense and puck moving (Klef) but be sound defensively, shut down (Larsson) and play big mins. Once healthy, they have a really good 2-3 in Sekera that can move the puck produce some offense and be decent defensively. They are missing a for sure #4 as Russell is right now filling in. Could Benning be that #4, maybe, he looks to be capable of it. Then you have Nurse who I think will be a 3-4 guy. Then you have Russell who like him or not is a passable #4 but a good #5.

    Would it be awesome to have a stud like a Doughty? Of course it would but I sure wouldn’t be throwing an insane trade offer for him. The Pens won the cup 2 months ago on the backs of their 2 elite centers with their #1 dman not playing a single game in the playoffs and missing significant time in the regular season. They had a defense made up of 6 decent NHL dman who if they go to another team, the best one MIGHT be a #3 but probably all slot in lower. The Oilers have the potential of having 2 ELITE centers in McDavid & Leon and if their top 4 continues like it is once Sekera comes back, they would have a top 4 that I believe is BETTER than the Pens top 4 minus Letang.

    • Jordan88

      Russell is a solid 4th D option for this season and the foreseeable future. Nurse will be a top 2 easily. He has the whole skill set. He is big, mean, fast, and can finish when moving up in the rush. He has natural offensive instincts its just a matter of trusting in them. That comes with confidence and usually NHL D-man don’t find that till they are in their mid 20’s and he is only 22. I expect at 25 he will be the stud we all want.

      • Copper

        You are higher on Nurse than I am. I agree he’s big, tough, fast and athletic but, his hockey sense doesn’t impress me. And Stud DMen don’t usually spend 19 &20 yr old seasons in Juniors. Must be a reason for it.
        And…Russell is ok in top 4 for now but is over paid and sliding to 3rd pairing as both Benning and Nurse gain experience.

        So much for “home town discount” or the “McDavid” discount factor

  • I don’t think a Doughty trade is for us. The price isn’t just mortgaging the future but the present too. Trading Klefbom and Larsson would be a mistake, they aren’t do it all guys but they get the job done especially for $4M each. Team friendly deals aren’t always easy to find and when you’re investing $18M+ on 2 players it’s a must. Trading Poolparty or Yamamoto would do more harm then good as we’d be getting rid of much needed reinforcements for our forward depth and would be pinning our hopes on Benson. Lastly we’ll need those draft picks in the coming years wether it’s for rentals or for filling the cupboards.

  • OilCan2

    The winning formula seems to be elite level skill up front especially down the middle. The Oilers are there.
    Why would you want to pay a single defenceman huge $$$$ when the cap is going to be a juggling act in a couple of years?

  • OilCan2

    Watch what Calgary is doing and then go the other way. Hmmm let’s see they just mortgaged the future for a couple of over hyped “#1 D” (Hamilton & Hamonic). It will be fun to sweep them and watch them struggle to get to a no win playoff spring.

    • DerpSolo

      Unless they ride another ten game win streak against non playoff teams into the playoffs. Undoublty, johnny hogwash and mike smut would get swept again by an actual playoff team. Maybe Oilers in the playoffs version of BOA

  • Copper

    Not sure what should be offered for an unsigned “Franchise” Dman. But, a large salary player like RNH must be part of the trade. Nurse would be a valued asset for a Doughty type player. Draft pick(s) would likely be needed for a rebuilding team too

  • TruthHurts98

    Anyone paying attention to social media? Leon just posted a pic with Congratulations!!! and the emojis along with it. Supposedly a press conference or announcement might be coming soon? (rumors of course) I hope he’s signed for 7-7.5 x 8 years. Might be wishful thinking, but one can hope right??

  • Randaman

    Connor 8 x 12.5, Leon 8x 8.5, we can’t afford Doughty. I really don’t believe we need him either. Give Klefbom another year, Nurse another year and Benning another year, did I mention Larsson? We’re just fine thanks

  • NoBuBlackOPS

    As far as trading for a top Dman I would not make that trade this year. This year feels like a really good opportunity to see a lot of growth throughout the lineup. We have plenty of young FWDs and Dmen who are still improving. Let’s see what we got with this roster before we start making big changes to it. No matter how we would go about bringing in a top D man is going to cost a very significant price one I don’t think we can do just yet. The team is still lacking quality prospects at the AHL lvl prospects we are going to need on cheap contracts especially since Draisaitl is getting 8.5 a year now

  • ScottV

    Just make sure we have a heavy rh d man shot, off the back side of the pp.

    Doesn’t have to be qb pedigree, just a contributor to the pp – top 4 d man, who can really shoot the puck.

    Maybe Benning could end up being that guy?

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    I would not trade Darnell Nurse or Puljujarvi away for anybody right now. Too much upside and Darnell Nurse has that nasty side of him that is sorely needed!